African Leagues review
Egypt and Tunisia are a week from restarting their long-stalled league campaigns, and the South African Premier League was halted for cup matches at the weekend, but the rest of the continent was busy with league action.
Congo DR Super League: Season begins
African champions TP Mazembe Englebert have set their eyes on an unprecedented third successive CAF Champions League as their priority for the year, but winning back their domestic title is high up on owner Moise Katumbi’s wish list for 2011. The new season started with a flourish for Mazembe as they beat Cercle Sportif Don Bosco 4-1 in Lubumbashi. But champions AS V Club went one better with a 5-1 thrashing of Racing Club Kinshasa in the capital.
Big game: Mazembe’s contingent came to the fore for the home side as Stopilla Sunzu, Rainford Kalaba and Given Singuluma all scored to lead the fightback after a surprise sixth-minute opener for Don Bosco from Kanda Kalombo. Alain Kaluyituka was missing from the line-up, but the other crowd favourite Patou Kabungu grabbed the fourth.
Headline-grabbers: A double-header at Kinshasa’s Stade des Martyrs saw ten goals for the crowd, first a 5-1 win for AS V Club over RCK and then Daring Club Motema Pembe scored four without reply against TC Elima. V Club were off and running after just eight minutes when they were awarded a penalty which Ndaya Mbangi converted, and he also got the fourth goal of the game with a spectacular drive. Runo Inasawa scored twice for DCMP in what turned into an easy win with a stronger second-half showing after a slim 1-0 lead at the break.
Moroccan Botola: Derby blues
With games beginning to run out, defending champions Wydad Casablanca had the chance to make up lost ground in a bid to defend their title, but a draw in the derby with arch-rivals Raja leaves them eight points behind the leaders, OC Khouribga. WAC do have a match in hand, but better placed are MAS Fez, who are two points off the lead with two matches to catch up
Big game: The Casablanca derby is one of the grand ‘classicos’ of the African game and Sunday marked the 110th meeting between the two, which took 70 minutes to get going but provided a thrilling finish. Wydad defender Abderrahim Benkejjane opened the scoring with a header but then Said Fettah was sent off to give Raja the advantage. This they quickly took advantage of and equalised in the 78th minute through Hassan Tair.
Headline-grabbers: The unexpected challenge of the likes of OC Khouribga, MAS Fez and OC Safi for the title has broken with the norm. Khouribga went to Safi and drew 1-1, while Fez won at bottom-placed Chabab Kasba Tadla, coming from a goal down at half-time to win 2-1 with Hamza Abourazzouk getting a 76th-minute winner.
Angolan Girabola: Bubble is burst
FC Cabinda claimed some early scalps in the first few weeks of the season but suffered a first defeat of their own at the weekend and lost top spot. A 2-0 home loss to Kabuscorp allowed Recreativo Libolo to take over at the top, while Primeiro Maio have added to the unheralded names at the top by going second after beating Academica Soyo.
Big game: Doutor Lamy and Sawu scored within six minutes of each other midway through the second half to silence the crowd at Estadio Chiazi in Cabinda as Joao Machado’s team suffered a first defeat of the season. Kabuscorp’s Russian coach Viktor Bondarenko said good organisation and patience had paid off in stifling Cabinda’s attacking approach.
Headline-grabbers: Last season’s runners-up Recreativo Caala had played just two league games this season because of participation in the CAF Champions League, but their 1-0 win over Academica Lobito confirmed their status among this season’s favourites. They are now up to fourth in the standings, three points off the leaders but with one match fewer played.
Ghana Premier League: Goals galore
Berekum Chelsea’s march to the title continues unabated and after a 3-0 win over New Edubaise they are now an effective three wins away from a maiden title. Just as remarkable has been the comeback of Asante Kotoko, who were in relegation trouble late last year but have now gone second after winning the Kumasi derby against King Faisal. They are still 13 points behind the leaders but now in contention for next season’s CAF Champions League.
Big game: Ivorian import Ahmed Toure was again the hero with an 85th-minute winner at the Baba Yara stadium for Kotoko. They had gone into the lead through substitute Nathaniel Asamoah but a defensive slip-up let Asuandzie Baffoe equalise.
Headline-grabbers: Emmanuel Clottey scored twice in Berekum Chelsea’s easy win to join Nathaniel Asamoah at the head of the Premier League scoring charts. Both have netted ten times, followed on eight for the season by Nana Poku of Berekum Arsenal.
Young Africans were crowned champions in Tanzania, finishing ahead of arch-rivals Simba on goal difference after both won on Sunday. Remarkably, a missed penalty proved Simba’s undoing.
FC Nouadhibou go into the final straight in Mauritania’s title race in the lead after their 2-0 win over ASC El Ahmadi.
Benin’s league resumed after a lengthy break with wins for Cifas, USS Krake and Requins.